December 15, 2015 / 7:28 AM / 2 years ago

UBM sells PR Newswire to Cision for $841 million

(Reuters) - UBM Plc said it would sell its press release distributor PR Newswire to Cision, a business controlled by GTCR Canyon Holdings, for $841 million, to focus on its events business.

Shares in UBM rose as much as 7 percent to 506.5 pence on Tuesday morning on the London Stock Exchange.

The company, which has been looking to sell the business since April, said it would return 245 million pounds ($371.6 million) of proceeds to shareholders through a special dividend, and use the rest for bolt-on acquisitions. UBM also plans to undergo a share consolidation.

The deal includes $810 million in cash and $31 million of preferred equity, UBM said.

Liberum analysts said the disposal should be viewed positively by the market as 500 million pounds was the widely quoted price.

Reuters reported earlier that Cision, a provider of public relations software, was close to a deal to buy PR Newswire.

The "go-forward" UBM would be a higher-margin, higher-growth business, Chief Executive Tim Cobbold told Reuters.

"PRN's business has lower growth rate and lower margin than the rest of UBM's business. So when PRN leaves, almost de facto the margins and growth rates of the remaining business will be up," Cobbold said.

UBM expects the deal to hurt earnings per share initially.

PR Newswire had revenue of 195.8 million pounds ($300.6 million) in 2014, about 26 percent of UBM's total revenue.

Events accounted for nearly 61 percent of UBM's sales in 2014 and would add about 80 percent of revenue post the deal.

UBM unveiled its "events first" strategy in November 2014, with a focus on spending resources on its largest and most profitable shows and spending 25-50 million pounds annually to acquire events businesses.

Cobbold said that UBM would look to raise spending on deals a "little bit", adding that it had a pipeline of attractive opportunities.

UBM bought trade show organizer Advanstar last year for $972 million, capping off a five-year spree in which it acquired 53 companies, most of them bolt-ons.

The company has a 4.1 percent market share of the global events industry.

The PRN deal, subject to antitrust clearance in the United States, is expected to close in the first quarter of 2016, UBM said.

Evercore Partners International and J.P. Morgan Cazenove are acting as joint financial advisers to UBM.

Cision said Deutsche Bank Securities, Barclays and RBC Capital Markets were providing it debt financing.

Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier

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